Linda Tomkinson doesn’t look like a typical vicar.
She can usually be seen on the Mereside estate with her hoodie, Doc Martins and moped scooter. And after nearly a year running services and nine months of living on the estate, she couldn’t be happier with the work going on in her local community.
Linda, 40, hopes to spread the word about community events and activities to as many local residents as possible.
Services at the Freedom Church Mereside first started off in her living room in April last year – after the Church of England church St Wilfrid’s closed down in 2015 due to the building being in disrepair. But over time as the congregation grew, bigger premises were needed and services at now held at Tarnside Community Centre.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There is a gospel choir, regular prayer tent at a nearby car boot sale, a bereavement support group at the Toby Carvery on Preston New Road the third Tuesday on every month, a regular bingo night, charity coffee mornings, school visits and singing workshops at the Harbour mental health hospital.
Linda said: “It’s really just about getting involved with what’s happening in the local community and supporting that.
“I have certainly found there is a great sense of community on the estate, and we have been made to feel really welcome. There is a real positive attitude and people are so supportive of each other. It’s such an honour and privilege people allow me into their lives.”
Linda spent 18 years in the Army, but always felt the calling towards the church and came to Blackpool for her curacy training in 2012.
She said: “I usually wear a hoodie and jeans. People have an image of the church as being full of stuffy people. You don’t have to wear formal clothes and we want people to see the church and faith has relevance.”
You can contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org